JENNIFER IACOVELLI encourages purposeful living in her book, “Simple Giving: Easy Ways to Give Every Day.”

JENNIFER IACOVELLI encourages purposeful living in her book, “Simple Giving: Easy Ways to Give Every Day.”


Jennifer Iacovelli, a blogger, writer and Tedford Housing’s director of development, wants us to know how easy and beneficial the simple act of giving is — in fact, she’s listed 40 ways in her new book.

Having spent some time in the nonprofit field in Maine, Iacovelli began a Philanthropy Friday series in 2011 on her blog, Another Jennifer. She said her pull to give and find more ways of leading a giving life led to her documenting her thoughts and sharing her stories in “Simple Giving: Easy Ways to Give Every Day.”

Surprisingly, with her background in nonprofit development, Iacovelli has a “say no to donations” policy.

Iacovelli said she would see people who really wanted to help out an organization by donating items, only to find the receiving nonprofit would have to reject the donation due to a lack of storage or simply not being a proper fit for the kind of help they are looking for.

“I would see this disconnect and I could see that they really wanted to give and then they’re disappointed because they can’t give the way they want. So, I started exploring that topic on my blog,” Iacovelli said.

Iacovelli said she began featuring people or businesses who give back in everyday life and in creative ways, adding that the act of giving doesn’t have to be a monetary or volunteering commitment.

“I went back and I looked and I could identify six different giving models — just different ways people were giving. I looked more into the psychology of giving as well, like how it feels good to give and there’s health benefits to it,” Iacovelli said.

Iacovelli makes the distinction when she talks about giving. She said to reap the benefits of giving, it must be meaningful — not simply tossing spare change into a Salvation Army bucket, but something a person feels a connection with.

Pointing to studies she researched, Iacovelli said altruism leads to lower inflammation and better overall physical and mental well-being. She said stressful lives lead to higher rates of inflammation, stress and cancer.

“In the book, there’s those different giving models and there’s stories to illustrate them. There’s action steps too because it’s not just talking about it. We have to actually do these things,” Iacovelli said.

Iacovelli said that whether you’re helping your neighbor shovel his driveway or working to better the environment, you are helping yourself as well. She said the whole point is to keep giving in the forefront and recognize the many giving opportunities around you.

The most simple giving

model, according to Iacovelli, is simply being kind to others.

Iacovelli told a story of a mother who entered a restaurant with a baby in a carrier and a young daughter. She had ordered her food to go but, with her hands full, she was obviously going to have some juggling to do.

A friend of Iacovelli saw the woman’s predicament and offered to carry the food out to her car for her.

“It’s simple stuff like that. I would clearly want help if I were that woman,” Iacovelli said, noting the gratitude of the mother for the extra hand.

Iacovelli said she believes in a purposeful life which includes also paying attention to the products you buy and where you get them. Buying locally or supporting businesses that give back in some way are also simple ways of living a giving life.

Saying it’s a matter of acting on your passion, Iacovelli said for her it’s recognizing how you want to give and what really speaks to you or what changes you would like to see.

“Even if it’s something little. Even if it’s just making other people feel better about themselves — giving them a compliment. But finding a way to act on it,” Iacovelli said.

Other ways Iacovelli said giving can be incorporated into your daily life is to send in extra money for school field trips for a child who may have not been able to afford the outing or who forgot their money.

At Christmas time, Iacovelli said she asks teachers what they need for their classroom. She said the teachers really appreciate it and for the money you would have spent on a Whitman’s Sampler or tin of flavored popcorn, a teacher could get resupplied with sheet protectors or dry erase markers.

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